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Legend (Page 52)

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That I feel alive and bursting and free and accepted and understood.

And so female.

And so good.

And so pretty just because of the ways Maverick Cage looks at me.

And . . . I think it’s love.

They say love is a chemical thing, a brain thing, a hormone thing.

Call it whatever you want to call it.

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I’m buzzing and obsessed, without sleep, without appetite, without want of anything but to be with him, talk to him, think of him.

I’m really, for the first time in my life, in love.

Not calm love, like with Miles, where it made sense to try to be in love.

This love makes no sense. It’s complicated and confusing and scary and I still have it bad for him and I still feel it. And I know it’s rushed and I know it’s dangerous and I know it’s maybe a little bit doomed, but I also know it’s true.

I want to say all that, but I’m afraid of her not understanding. This. Me. Us. I’m afraid nobody understands but Maverick.

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I stay quiet as we head into the inflatable indoor playground.

And instead I ask, “How long will they train for?”

“All day for sure.” She stops to get us tickets inside. “Though Remington promised to run early with me today. He should be home by seven. The gym is booked for the day though. Do you want to use it?” She leads Racer inside, looking at me over her shoulder as I follow. “I can take Racer in the stroller with us.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. Make use of it.”

So I do.

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♥ ♥ ♥

IT’S 7:11 P.M. when I get there. The gym lights are low, and there’s no background music. Instead, I’m greeted by the rhythmic sounds of the speed bag being hit at lightning speed far away. A part of me wonders if Remy decided to stay, but when I peer past the weights and the ring, to the far corner, it’s not Remy killing the speed bag. Oh, he’s dark-haired and tall, all right, and muscled like there’s no tomorrow, but the guy at the speed bag is Maverick.

He’s bare-chested, wearing nothing but his low-slung sweatpants. His tattoo is alive, rippling in all its winged glory as he hits. Biceps flexing. Shoulders clenching. Abs gripping.

Am I hurting you . . ?

Flashes of him mounting me swim in my head. Flashes of his hands all over me. My nipple disappearing into his mouth. Me, being filled. Being taken. Being reckless. Being free.

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I watch Maverick for a moment in silence. In awe. All that male power, perfectly controlled as he measures his punches. Each landing on the spot where he wants it to land, hitting precisely, expertly, one arm rolling after the other.

I don’t get many opportunities to look at him—not really, because when I do, I’m usually seized by the fact that Maverick is looking at me.

But now he’s concentrating on the speed bag, the same guy in the hoodie I met weeks ago who piggybacked on me at that gym.

His muscles have grown a little. He looks a little tanner, maybe he’s been running outside? He looks corded. More male. More adult. More dangerous than any fighter I’ve ever seen—because there’s no one who has as much to prove to all his haters as he does.

And I lean on the wall and watch the look of concentration on his profile. So lethal, so quiet. Every second that I watch, I feel this excruciatingly painful sensation of want mingled with happiness squeeze my chest.

He stops hitting.

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Exhales.

And slowly frowns, as if deep in thought.

Did he sense me?

He’s starting to turn.

He sensed me.

Because as he turns, his gaze slides, without stopping, and pins me in place. His eyes smolder the instant they connect with mine. And I smolder inside.

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“I’m on my way back to the hotel, I just wanted to say hi,” I nervously say. Even my voice sounds soft when I talk to him. All of me goes soft.

I wait a beat, and while I wait, this gorgeous smile starts to pull at the sides of his lips.

“So hi,” I finish, awkwardly lifting my hand.

He pulls off his gloves with the opposite arms, never taking his eyes off me, and I slowly lower my hand.

He starts approaching.

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“Hi,” he says. He walks with that swagger and that look in his eyes that says, without apology or hesitation or remorse . . . I remember you in my arms last night, Reese.

Inhaling sharply at the memory, I need to cant my head back to meet his gaze, and when I do, he’s still smiling that powerhouse smile at me.

I thought I wanted to be loved. But now I realize, I don’t just want to be loved. I want to be loved by one man. This man.

He doesn’t look anxious or worried at all. He looks pleased, like a guy who’s just worked out as if he was born to sweat, and punch, and kick other men’s a***s. Like a guy who knows he’s getting the girl at the end of the day—or like a guy who knows he already has her. Even if she hasn’t said “I love you” yet. Even if she’s with the Tates. And Miles is still out in the world somewhere.

“When are you leaving for Boston?” he asks me, taking my chin—just like that—and kissing me on the lips—just like that.

I gulp. “Tomorrow.”

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My knees.

My poor tingling toes.

“Would you come with me?” he asks.

“What do you mean?”

“Come with me to Boston, Reese. For semifinals.”

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“Like . . . travel with you?”

He nods.

My eyes widen. “I . . . YES.”

“Text me your traveling info when you get to the hotel. I’ll get us both on the noon flight.”

Me and him, together.

I don’t even know how I’m going to make this happen. I just know I’m making this happen. Brooke is always so understanding, and Racer always sticks by his dad when they’re on the plane. I can’t even fathom the Tates denying me.

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